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Newington toy store to close its doors due to rising costs amid supply chain issues

Owner Eliah Lefferts said Jojo's Toys and More opened in May of this year to bring back the "magical element" of toy shopping locally.

NEWINGTON, Conn. — Inspired by almost 6-year-old Jojo's love for toys, Eliah Lefferts and his wife moved to Connecticut from California with their son, to follow a dream and open a toy store that would make everyone feel welcome.

"We got tired of going to the big box stores and you know, nobody real cares, it's kind of a cold environment," Lefferts told FOX61.

RELATED: Supply chain shortages impacting stores and shoppers in Connecticut

In May of this year, Jojo's Toys and More opened its doors. At the time, the pandemic and its effects seemed to be in the rearview mirror.

"Everything was looking great. We were excited, we peeled off the arrows on the floor, all the spacing and distancing stuff," Lefferts said. "Nobody, in my opinion I don't know, nobody saw this coming."

Supply chain issues driving up the costs of products brought the small business to a halt.

"At the end of September, maybe mid to end September something that would've cost us $3.74 went up to $12.99" Lefferts said. "On average it's about 75 days to get products, from the time you order to get it, right now."

Brian Marks, a senior lecturer in the economics department at the University of New Haven, said a labor shortage at all levels of the supply chain is contributing to that problem.

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"In the case of the toy industry, many of the toys have been manufactured and produced outside of the United States," Marks said. "And as we've seen there's been a bottleneck at the harbors to actually offload the supplies."

It is affecting everyone from small businesses to the big box stores.

"This issue is not going to go away overnight," Marks added. "If I were a business, I'd be looking out the next year, to 18 months."

At Jojo's, there's no choice but to close up shop, at least for now.

"It's tough, it's really tough," Lefferts said.

He said even with the challenges they faced, they still met their goal of connecting with customers and bringing back the magic of toy shopping to Newington. 

"We did create this. We made what we set out to do, and we're proud of it. We're kind of going out with our heads held high because this was the dream. We did it," Lefferts said.

Jojo's Toys and More will be open one last day, Saturday October 23 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

RELATED: Walmart unveils three Black Friday shopping events

Gaby Molina is a reporter and anchor at FOX61 News. She can be reached at gmolina@fox61.com. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

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